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The Last Word on the Wage Curve?

  • Peter Nijkamp
  • Jacques Poot

Since 1990, there has been extensive international research on the responsiveness of wages of individuals to changing local labour market conditions. For many countries, an inverse relationship between wages and local unemployment rates has been found. In their book, The Wage Curve, Blanchflower and Oswald argued that the unemployment elasticity of pay is around - 0.1 in most countries. In a 1995 literature survey, Card referred to this striking empirical regularity as being close to an 'empirical law of economics'. Nonetheless, reported elasticities do vary, even excluding outliers, between about - 0.5 and + 0.1. There is also considerable heterogeneity among wage curve studies in terms of data and model specification. This paper carries out meta-analytic techniques on a sample of 208 elasticities derived from the literature to uncover the reasons for the differences in empirical results across studies. Several causes of variation are identified. There is also clear evidence of downward publication bias. In addition, many reported t-statistics are biased upwards due to the use of aggregate unemployment rates. A maximum likelihood method and a trimming procedure are used to correct for these biases. Both methods give similar results for our sample. An unbiased estimate of the wage curve elasticity at the means of study characteristics is about - 0.07. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2005.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economic Surveys.

Volume (Year): 19 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (07)
Pages: 421-450

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:19:y:2005:i:3:p:421-450
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  1. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Estimating a Wage Curve for Britain: 1973-90," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(426), pages 1025-43, September.
  3. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1994. "Estimating a Wage Curve for Britain 1973-1990," NBER Working Papers 4770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ashenfelter, O. & Harmon, C. & Oosterbeek, H., 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/ Earnings Relationship, with tests for Publication Bias," Papers 99/20, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  5. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "An Introduction to the Wage Curve," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 153-167, Summer.
  6. Partridge, Mark D. & Rickman, Dan S., 1997. "Has the wage curve nullified the Harris-Todaro model? Further US evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 277-282, July.
  7. Kennedy, S. & Borland, J., 1997. "A wage Curve for Australia?," CEPR Discussion Papers 372, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Baltagi, Badi H. & Blien, Uwe & Wolf, Katja, 2000. "The East German wage curve 1993-1998," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 25-31, October.
  9. Salop, Steven C, 1979. "A Model of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 117-25, March.
  10. Baltagi, Badi H. & Blien, Uwe, 1998. "The German wage curve: evidence from the IAB employment sample," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 135-142, November.
  11. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, August.
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  1. Meta-Analysis in Economics

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